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Summer Palace (2006)
"Yihe yuan" (original title)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  18 April 2007 (France)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,691 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 26 user | 34 critic | 12 from Metacritic.com

Country girl Yu Hong leaves her village, her family and her lover to study in Beijing. At university, she discovers an intense world of sexual freedom and forbidden pleasure. Enraptured, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Xueyun Bai ...
Lin Cui ...
Yihong Duan ...
Tang Caoshi (as Long Duan)
Xiaodong Guo ...
...
Ling Hu ...
Chi Le ...
Woman
Meihuizi Zeng ...
Dongdong
Xianmin Zhang ...
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Storyline

Country girl Yu Hong leaves her village, her family and her lover to study in Beijing. At university, she discovers an intense world of sexual freedom and forbidden pleasure. Enraptured, compulsive, she falls madly in love with fellow student Zhou Wei. Driven by obsessive passions they can neither understand nor control, their relationship becomes one of dangerous games - betrayals, recriminations, provocations - as all around them, their fellow students begin to demonstrate, demanding democracy and freedom. Protests collapse, and Yu and Zhou lose each other amidst the social chaos and panicked crowds. Zhou Wei is sent to a summer military camp, and on his release moves to Berlin, fleeing both his country and memories of Yu. She finds a job, a lover, but can not forget Zhou. In Germany, social unrest is mounting: calls for freedom, demonstrations for democracy. A familiar story for Zhou. Weary, still haunted by Yu, he returns to China as the Berlin Wall crashes down. He finds her at ... Written by Anon

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

18 April 2007 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Summer Palace  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,649 (USA) (18 January 2008)

Gross:

$62,707 (USA) (25 April 2008)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was the only Asian film selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in 2006. See more »

Goofs

The fashionable clothing worn by characters Yu Hong and Zhou Wei throughout their scenes as university students simply did not exist in China at this time nor for at least another decade. Mainland Chinese students circa the 1980s would have worn nondescript, non-branded attire rather than the high-heels, hipster track suits, designer dresses and sexy lingerie worn by the actors and actresses in Summer Palace. See more »

Quotes

Yu Hong: I want us to break up.
Zhou Wei: Why?
Yu Hong: Because I can't leave you.
See more »

Connections

Features The 400 Blows (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

 
an intelligent film about obsessive love
22 March 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In the late 1980's, an inexperienced young woman named Yu Hong leaves her hometown and boyfriend in the provinces to attend Beijing University. Almost immediately, she falls into a passionate love/hate relationship with a fellow student at the school. This torrid affair plays out partly against the backdrop of the student protests and subsequent massacre that occurred in Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989. (The movie also takes place briefly in Germany, the other part of the world where significant social change was occurring in 1989).

"Summer Palace" plays almost like the autopsy of a romantic obsession, attempting to get at the root of why we love in the way that we do. A novice at true love, Yu Hong understands neither her undying passion for Zhou Wei nor her seemingly incessant need to keep sabotaging their relationship. The closest she can come to grasping this paradox is when she says to Zhou Wei: "I want to break up…because I can't leave you." Love is seen almost as a form of mental illness in this film - as a debilitating, all-consuming condition that one is powerless to control or "cure" but which, if left unchecked, can become the single dominant force in a person's life (we rarely see Yu Hong studying, let alone going to class). One can attempt to fill the void with other loves, but the heart always comes back to the same place.

"Summer Palace" is long and occasionally repetitious and the political aspects aren't as effectively integrated into the story as they perhaps might have been, but the movie is beautifully acted by Lei Hao and Xiaodong Guo, among others, and features incisive and sensitive direction by Ye Lou (who, along with Feng Mei and Ma Yingli, co-authored the screenplay). This is a largely impressionistic film, concentrating more on mood, imagery and emotions than on narrative. The last hour of the film - so filled with longing and regret as the characters age and attempt to come to terms with the special thing they have lost - is particularly lyrical and heartbreaking and will haunt you long after the movie is over.

All told, "Summer Palace" is an intelligent and moving rumination on that mysterious force we call love.


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